Fifty-eight years ago, a Baptist church in Birmingham, Alabama, was destroyed by white supremacists in an act of terrrorism on a Sunday morning in September.
Saturday, September 17, 2022 at 2:00 p.m. Sproul/Intercultural Center Dome Room Swarthmore College (map)
Join us for a screening and community-wide discussion of the academy-award nominated documentary by Spike Lee, 4 Little Girls, this Saturday.
The film commemorates the church bombing that claimed the lives of four African American girls during a profound period of upheaval in the struggle for social justice. The documentary revisits the moment that catalyzed civil rights in the US and traces the lives of those who would become some of the youngest martyrs in the emerging global peace movement for racial, ethnic, religious, and sexual equality: Addie Mae Collins, Carol Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley, and Carole Rosamond Robertson.
Come watch the film and stay for discussion. #SayTheirNames
We are excited to share a new course coming in Spring 2022! Professor Nanci Buiza’s will begin teaching honors seminar SPAN 103: Trauma, Afecto Y Derechos Huamnos en la Literatura Centroamericana. This course is an elaborated companion to her course PEAC 038: Civil Wars and Neoliberal Peace in Central America. We congratulate Professor Buiza on receiving a Mellon Course Development Grant to create this new course.
What’s the difference between PEAC 038 and SPAN 103?
Prof. Buiza writes, “The PEAC038 course focuses on the sociopolitical and historical causes and consequences of armed conflict in Central America (1960s-early 1990s), the transition to peace and democracy, and the implementation of neoliberal economic reforms that came with the arrival of peace in the mid 1990s. The course, however, really does not study the cultural production (literature, film, art, music) related to these decades of instability in the region. My honors seminar in Spanish will focus on the cultural production of the region and how it relates to and engages with the above mentioned sociopolitical and historical forces.
The focus will be on the Central American region, mostly the countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua. The seminar will incorporate theory to discuss issues of ethics, social justice, and human rights in a war-torn society. It will allow students to weave together critical and theoretical concepts of peace and conflict studies that they have learned in the program and apply them to our analysis and study of how cultural representations engage with sociopolitical turmoil; how performance artists engage with issues of social justice in nonviolent ways; and how cultural production as whole invites people to think about other possibilities to violence and state repression.”
Here is the course description. We highly recommend Peace program students consider registering for SPAN 103.
This honors seminar studies contemporary Central American literature and culture with a focus on theories of trauma to discuss cultural representations of human suffering, empathy, and pain. The seminar explores the social disintegration and legacy of violence left by decades of civil wars, genocide, and revolution in the region, as well as theories of trauma, memory, affect, aesthetics, philosophical cynicism, and human rights. These theoretical approaches will help us reflect on the relation between literature and human rights; the sociopolitical upheavals and their cultural representations; and how cultural production engages with issues of peace and conflict in the neoliberal era. We will pay special attention to representations of social disaffection, political disillusionment, and survival in a postwar context shaped by socio-economic precarity. In addition to reading literary works by some of the main authors in the region, we will analyze scholarly debates surrounding Central American literature, as well as watch films and performances that probe into the issues of ethics, historical truth, social justice, reconciliation, historical memory, and the human predicament in a postwar society.
Ramiro Hernandez ’23 started his fall break off with a bang, taking part in the Harvard Kennedy School’s 2021 Public Leadership Conference earlier this month.
One of just 68 undergraduates from across the U.S. chosen, Hernandez relished the chance to build community with his fellow attendees.
“Hearing all of the projects, initiatives, and change-making that other students are pursuing at campuses across the country was inspiring,” says the honors medical anthropology, peace & conflict studies, and educational studies special major from Hidalgo, Texas, “and I found comfort in sharing a virtual space in which everyone was vulnerable enough to discuss our fears and aspirations.”
The mission of the conference is to inspire student leaders — particularly those from historically underrepresented and underserved communities — to pursue careers in public service. Participants learn what it means to study public policy in a graduate school environment and have opportunities to connect with current Harvard Kennedy School students, faculty, and staff as well as their fellow attendees
“I also really enjoyed hearing from the representatives of various public policy programs, as I learned a lot about financial aid opportunities and fellowships that I was not aware of,” Hernandez says. “I finished the weekend with the confidence that pursuing a career within the field of public policy is the path I’m meant to take.”
After missing the cut for the conference two years ago, Hernandez was nervous about opening the notification email for this year’s event. But being selected at this time proved fortuitous.
“I’ve become much more grounded in my politics, my beliefs, and the multiple truths I hold dear,” he says, “and I feel much more confident in my change-making abilities.”
A first-generation college student, Hernandez has a broad interest in public service that is grounded in his experience as a second-generation immigrant growing up in a border community in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. He is intent on using every opportunity he receives to move resources where they are most needed, ensuring that future generations have everything they need to live well in their communities.
Reflecting on the conference, Hernandez points to the excitement of “meeting 67 other folks who come from backgrounds similar to mine and are just as passionate as I am about improving the conditions of various communities around the world.”
[This blog post was reposted from the Swarthmore News and Event page and was written by Ryan Dougherty.]
Professor Smithey has been teaching his course, “Climate Disruption, Conflict, and Peacemaking” again this semester, and right now the second of two delegations of Swatties are on their way to Glasgow Scotland to observe the COP26 meetings (read their daily blog), so many of us have been thinking in considerable detail about the pace of climate disruption, who is responsible, impacts with respect to positive and negative peace, how to steer a global economy into an unprecedented turn, and more.
For reference, we want to just leave this carbon countdown clock right here:
Come join the Political Science Department at the Brown Bag Lunch Thursday, September 16th at 12:30pm to hear Professor Tierney give a short talk on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the international consequences. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP. The event will be held in Parrish Tent and lunch will be provided.
Professor of Political Science Dominic Tierney recently joined Matt Leon of KYW Newsradio to discuss the American withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years of conflict and what could’ve been done differently to prevent the resurgence of the Taliban.
Tierney argues that the rapid collapse of the Afghan government was not preordained in 2001 but had become increasingly predictable over the most recent weeks and months. Most surprising, however, seemed to be the lack of armed conflict that preceded the Taliban’s return to power.
“By and large, commanders of the Afghan army surrendered and basically negotiated deals in a process that had probably been in the works for a very long time,” Tierney tells Leon. “It speaks to the deeper issue that we have never really understood the local dynamics in Afghanistan. It may as well have been on the moon from the view of most Americans and, frankly, most D.C. politicians.”
Tierney also discusses the history of American involvement in Afghanistan since 2001 and identifies a lack of nuance in U.S. foreign policy as a potential cause for ultimate failure in Kabul.
“In 2002, the Taliban reached out to the United States and basically stated that they were willing to accept a negotiated deal,” says Tierney. “The amazing thing is that the Bush administration … didn’t even consider it. At the time, we thought the Taliban and the al-Qaeda were the same guys. They were the bad guys, and we were going to put all of them in one bucket and take them out.”
He argues that this “crusading mindset” led the U.S. to waste the leverage it had at the time and allowed the Taliban to slowly reemerge by 2006, culminating in a nationwide insurgency.
Looking ahead, Tierney believes that it will take time before one can evaluate the impact of President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw, especially as it relates to the rights of the nation’s girls and women.
“It’s very certain that there will be restrictive dress and things like that,” he says. “However, the hopeful story is that Afghanistan ends up looking like Iran: a theocracy, rather than Gilead from The Handmaid’s Tale. Maybe we could see the Taliban accepting women as doctors and midwives, and allow them to have some education. Hopefully, regional powers can use their leverage to strongly pressure the Taliban to allow some rights.”
Tierney also appeared in other outlets, such as The Guardian, to discuss recent developments in Afghanistan:
“How have Friends collaborated with and sustained the global system of White Supremacy? George Fox, the founder of the Religious Society of Friends envisioned a revolutionary religion which professes the belief that every person has a direct relationship with God. Early Friends proclaimed our capacity for spiritual wholeness comes from the seed of God planted in our hearts. What structures are preventing Friends from living into these beliefs and growing God’s seed?“
This year’s lecture is online and free to the public, and we think it will be of interest to some in our peace and conflict studies program. Many thanks to Pendle Hill for their programming and hospitality
Associate Professor of Philosophy Krista Thomason was recently recognized as a leading scholar by the National Humanities Center (NHC) with a 2021 residential fellowship to continue work on her second book project, Worms in the Garden: Bad Feelings in a Good Life.
The residential fellowship will allow Thomason to spend her sabbatical year at the NHC working alongside other fellows, which Thomason describes as “every scholar’s dream.” Worms in the Garden: Bad Feelings in a Good Life contemplates how one can live a good life without having to get rid of negative emotion.
“I teach moral philosophy regularly, and in that class, we use classic works in philosophy to help us think through the moral questions that we face in our everyday lives,” Thomason says of the book. “When I was thinking about how to approach this book, it hit me that I should use the same strategy that I use in the classroom. So, I draw on work from the history of philosophy to help answer the question, how do we live well with our bad feelings?”
Thomason was selected for the 35-person cohort from more than 600 applications. “When the VP of scholarly programs called me to tell me I’d been selected, he made sure to tell me that the committee thought my project was excellent philosophical scholarship with a wide appeal,” says Thomason, “which is a huge compliment.”
Robert D. Newman, president and director of the NHC, said in a statement: “We are proud to support the work of these exceptional scholars. They were selected from an extremely competitive group of applicants, and their work covers a wide gamut of fascinating topics that promises to shape thinking in their fields for years to come. I look forward to welcoming them to the center in the fall.”
The in-residence fellowship will take Thomason off the Swarthmore campus, but she doesn’t anticipate that much change in the environment.
“Being in a liberal arts college environment means you’re able to communicate what is significant or interesting about your work to people who don’t necessarily think like you do. It also means that you know how to learn from colleagues in different fields and that you value different scholarly approaches,” she says. “I’ll be with top-notch humanities scholars from a wide range of disciplines, so it’s not that different from my normal life at Swarthmore.”
The NHC is the only independent institute dedicated exclusively to advanced study in all areas of the humanities. Through its residential fellowship program, education programs, and public engagement, the NHC promotes understanding of the humanities and advocates for their foundational role in a democratic society.
[This blog post was reposted from the Swarthmore News and Event page and was written by Nora Kelly.]
Friends Historical Library is presenting a lecture on The Quaker Peace Testimony in the 20th Century on Thursday, April 11, 2019, 4:30 PM, in the McCabe Library Atrium. The speaker is David Harrington Watt, the Douglas and Dorothy Steere Professor of Quaker Studies at Haverford College.
Over the centuries, Quakers have thought about coercion, violence and war in many different ways. This talk will examine the ways in which Henry J. Cadbury (1883-1974)—one of the more prominent figures in the history of modern Quakerism — thought about those issues. In 1919, Haverford’s Board of Mangers accepted Henry Cadbury’s resignation from the college’s faculty. The resignation grew out a controversy connected to Cadbury’s vociferous advocacy of peace. This talk will examine Cadbury’s views on peace, coercion, and war and about what hose views tell use about the history of the Quaker “Peace Testimony.”
The Ashoka Japan Youth Venturers will arrive on campus this coming weekend March 24 – March 27th, and will be hosted by the Social Innovation Lab in the Lang Center. They are traveling a long way to spend time at Swarthmore, so we want to make sure their experience is positive!
Events during their visit include:
Sunday, March 24th 4 pm WELCOME & PIZZA – Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility
Monday, March 25th, 2-5pm and Tuesday, March 25th, 2-3.30pm Ashoka & Swarthmore student Project Presentations in the Social Innovation Lab, Lang Center
The Ashoka Japan Youth Venturer students and Swarthmore students will be giving presentations on their amazing social impact projects! Come and hear about the amazing change they are creating in the world!
Monday, March 25th, 6pm and Tuesday, March 25th, 6pm Dinner in Sharples – please join them and say hello!
If you are planning on being at any of the sessions above, please RSVP to Denise Crossan or Natasha Markov-Riss and add your name to the VISIT SCHEDULE.